'Escape Genius' Bear Recaptured After 42 Days

Wildlife groups say they will fight for Papillon's freedom
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2020 5:26 PM CDT
Updated Sep 8, 2020 3:03 AM CDT
'Europe's Most Wanted Bear' Recaptured
A wildlife camera captured this image of M49 after a previous escape.   (Province of Trento)

One of Italy's most famous escape artists is back behind bars, 42 days after he busted out of maximum security. M49, described by the Guardian as "Europe's most wanted bear," was captured by rangers in Trento province with a "tube trap" device Monday. The bear was nicknamed Papillon and called an "escape genius" after previous escapes from a wildlife enclosure, including a breakout last year in which he climbed three electric fences and a 13-foot wall just hours after he had been captured for the first time. The order to capture the bear came after it was spotted near inhabited areas and blamed for attacks on livestock, but wildlife groups have vowed to fight for its freedom, saying it has never shown aggression toward humans.

"Papillon is an animal which in the past has only caused damage to infrastructure at the zoo, and for this reason it needs to be monitored, not locked up," says Ornella Dorigatti, the local representative of the International Organization for Animal Protection. In the most recent escape, on July 27, the bear broke out of a fortified 100,000-square foot enclosure he shared with a female bear. "The fence was fortified and despite that he was able to break through the very resistant fence that was partially electric, he had a desire to escape stronger than a 6,000 volt fence," a local government spokesman said at the time, per CNN. He added: "The problem is he is too wild and has a strong instinct to return to the forest." (More escaped animal stories.)

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